Truths about life and death from three verses of Scripture.
1. Philippians 1:21 “To me, to live — Christ; to die — gain.” (the original has no verbs). Punchy, direct; to the point!
The range of experience is common to all: To live—-To die. Today, some will live; some will die. I hope to live but dying is always a possibility. Either outcome: Dying – (for Paul, execution by the Romans) or Living – (for Paul, release from prison); the reason is the same: Christ. What could he mean by Christ? Jesus Christ? He died years before these words were written. Living and dying for a dead man? No. Christ died, but He lives! Death could not keep Him! He holds the keys of death and the grave. Living is for Him; dying is too. To live, Christ – purpose, reason, goal, focus, personal relationship, mission: Christ Jesus – who died for us and our sins. Who forever lives to intercede for us. We live; we die; we gain. Gain? How? Death is the end of life, right? Not in Christ. “To depart and be with Christ, is better by far” (Philippians 1:23). Gain!
2. James 4:14 “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while then vanishes.”
What is your life? Wait! Is it really “your” life? If so, in what sense? It doesn’t last long — a mist, a vapor, a morning fog. This is not too encouraging. If it’s your life, brevity defines it and you can’t change this fact.
A short and uncertain life should be lived in submission to the sovereign God. So when speaking about your plans for the future, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:15). Remind yourself often. Keep saying it – “If it is the Lord’s will.” If God wills, first, we’ll be alive; secondly, we’ll take up our things-to-do list and work through it. Never forget the boundary. “If it is the Lord’s will….” Nothing allows one to live without an “if” attached to the future (not even prayer). But life in the “if” is a secure place to be. The Lord’s will is a secure place for living your brief life.
3. I Corinthians 15:19 “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
This life? Is there another? Evidently. Some say, “Even if I am wrong about Christ, in the end, I’ve had a better life by believing in Him.” Pity you if you think this way! Pity you more than any other! What a pitiful way to believe. Hope has a present and a future, this life and the next. Don’t even think of one without the other! In Christ, forever.